First Timer Scoop for the Charlotte Fitness Studios

Nervous about your first go-round at the local fitness studios? You’re not alone! Check out my most recent ScoopCharlotte post for everything you need to know prior to class.


Gym anxiety is real, y’all. That awkward feeling where you’re trying to act like you know what’s going on when you’re really wondering “what do I do with my hands.”

Are you in need of a little encouragement to squash the “first timer” intimidation factor and show up like a “regular” at one of the many fitness studios in the Charlotte area? Count on Scoop to get you through it with how to sign up, what to bring, when to show, and even some studio specific insider tips.

Xtend Barre Charlotte 

Xtend Barre Charlotte

How To Sign Up Online or through their super convenient Xtend Barre App. They offer a New Client Special of two weeks unlimited classes for just $49. Month to month memberships range from $79 (4 classes) to $169 (unlimited classes). Check out their What to Expect From Your First Xtend Barre Class video here.

What To Wear Fitted leggings or capris, a supportive sport’s bra, the top of your choice, and grip socks. Grip socks are available for $14 at the studio & the experts recommend buying a nice pair from the beginning – unfortunately, not all grip socks are created equal.

What To Bring Grip socks & water. Xtend Barre provides everything else you’ll need for your session.

Xtend Barre Charlotte

Pre-Class Prep Give yourself 10-15 minutes before class to arrive, park, and check in at the front desk. Entry isn’t permitted after 5-10 minutes of the start of class so it is extremely important to be on time. Xtend Barre provides cubbies for personal belongings. Once you drop them off, check the chalkboard for your teacher’s name and the equipment you’ll need for class (mat, weights, ball, etc). Store your equipment under the barre and make your way to the center of the room as each Xtend Barre class starts center floor. Be sure to advise your instructor before class of any injuries or other circumstances that might require modification – they are more than happy to personalize the moves to what is right for you.

Insider Tips 

  1. Parking is tricky – skip the first floor of the deck and go straight to the second or third.
  2. Once parked, head to the entrance between Hickory Tavern and West Elm – Xtend Barre faces the Little Sugar Creek Greenway so you’ll have to enter from the back side of the building.
  3. Don’t be surprised by the French ballet terms thrown around during class and don’t freak out ~ the instructor will explain what they mean and what is required for each.
  4. The back barre is a bit higher than the rest – only head there if you’re taller than 5’9″.
  5. Come ready to sweat – Xtend Barre workouts involve both cardio and sculpting.
  6. Don’t give up after just one class – if you stick with it, you’ll be a pro in no time.
  7. Don’t be embarrassed to modify the moves – you’re still guaranteed a good workout.
  8. Go for the 1-2 lb weights and leave the 3 lb on the rack. When sculpting long, lean muscles this is all you’ll need.
  9. The instructors normally demo a few times then walk around the class. Take advantage of when they help you correct your form to execute each move properly. Their verbal cues will also help you to get the most out of the workout so listen carefully.

Orangetheory Fitness Charlotte (3 soon to be 4 studios)

OrangeTheory Fitness

How To Sign Up Your first workout is complimentary, but a credit card is required to reserve your spot. After that, call to book a class at one of the many local studios (Arboretum, Quail Corners, Southend, and Coming Soon: Ballantyne) and plan on arriving 30 minutes prior to class start for a quick introduction. Orangtheory fitness experts will get you set up with a heart rate monitor you can borrow for the first session.

What To Wear Simple – comfortable workout clothes & walking/running shoes.

What To Bring Water and a sweat towel.

Pre-Class Prep Check in at the front desk and staff will give you a quick tour of the studio. There are cubbies for personal belongings but be sure to bring your own lock if you want to secure them. After that, you’ll complete a client intake form and chat with the staff on your fitness goals and what you’re looking to accomplish with Orangetheory’s help. Staff will then set you up with a heart rate monitor and give you an introduction to the class with a rowing demonstration. This will give them the opportunity to correct your form. Once this is done, you’ll have a brief introduction to your class “coach” who will guide you through the entire session. Once the session is over, you’ll receive an email detailing out your workout summary and results from OTbeat, Orangetheory’s heart rate monitor system.

Insider Tips

  1. Carry your water bottle and sweat towel with you at all times – you’ll need it.
  2. The South End studio has more parking located on Iverson Way in the gravel lot.
  3. Switch up your workouts by starting in different places – either the rower or the treadmill
  4. Most members only arrive with a set of keys. OTF will store them at their front desk.
  5. Each studio is equipped with 1-2 shower rooms.
  6. Each treadmill has a fan – use it to keep cool throughout your workout.
  7. Stay for the stretch. Cooling down is one of the most important parts of the workout.
  8. Check out the glass walls in each studio for need-to-know news and events.

IM=X Pilates

How To Sign Up For first time members, IM=X offers a free introductory class (look for them sprinkled throughout the schedule) OR an introductory session which is just $25 for an hour with a trainer and a $25 credit towards the purchase of a package or membership. IM=X encourages reservations for classes but doesn’t require them. Since classes are small (normally 10 people) the reservation is helpful, especially during peak class times. The number of spots left within each class is always visible online – but, keep in mind, a paid package or membership is required in order to reserve online with the exception of the introductory classes.

What To Wear Simple – clothes you feel comfortable to move and stretch in. Sticky socks are required for Xercizer and Tower classes but lucky for first timers, regular socks are allowed. Sticky socks are available for purchase at the studio. TRX classes are the only ones that require sneakers.

IM=X Pilates

What To Bring IM=X offers everything you need for their classes including yoga mats and water fountains. Bottled water is available for purchase if needed or you may bring your own.

Pre-Class Prep Once you arrive, initial next to your name on the list waiting on the front counter. If you are a drop in, simply add your name to the list. IM=X adds each name to their online records. After signing in, drop all personal belongings off at the cubbies near the front and back of the studio. The instructor will then let you know what equipment you’ll need to collect at your spot.

Insider Tips

  1. Take advantage of the wait list. Since classes can be signed up for 2 weeks in advance they fill up quickly. By signing up for the wait list, this will allow you to receive a text or email when a spot opens up to confirm or cancel your reservation.
  2. IM=X is a small studio so while there is no way to really “hide” in a class, it is easy to feel like you’re in your own little world or “on your own little island,” especially during classes like Xercizer that requires your own machine. This offers you the ability to focus on you for the 55 minute class and leave feeling energized, stretched, and destressed.

Hillard Studio Method

Hillard Studio Method

How To Sign Up Through their website or mobile app. Packages include a New Client Special (10 classes in 60 days) as well as Monthly, Unlimited, and Class Packages ranging from 1-20 classes valid for up to a year.

What To Wear Fitted pants and a workout tank/t-shirt that moves. No socks, no shoes, no nonsense.

What To Bring Yourself – Hillard Studio Method provides everything else you’ll need during class.

Hillard Studio Method

Pre Class Prep If you’re a first timer, stop by the front desk to fill out some paperwork. Your trainer will then talk about any goals and walk you through any modifications you might need to take advantage of during the class. Store your personal belongings in the cubby area and then look to your instructor for any equipment you might need to gather for the class.

Hillard Studio Method

Insider Tips

  1. Fuel up pre-class like Liz, Clary, and all of the other trainers with an HSM Signature Smoothie, With 27g of protein, 20g of fiber and 7 servings of organic greens, this smoothie works with the method to give you the body and energy you’ve always wanted.
  2. Arrive early and stay after. HSM’s cubby area tends to turn into a social hour and trainers are always eager to chat.
  3. Refuel like an HSM pro with a post workout Trilogy Kombucha and a Think Thin Bar, both available at the studio. On Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, (Luna’s) Living Kitchen’s Juice Truck is parked outside from 8am until noon so you can stock up on organic, good-for-you juice.

Now then, aren’t you feeling better about giving these studios a go?

Scoop does too – see you there!

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